The Cano article, in your Learning Resources, links diversity among and within organizations with the ability to successfully serve communities and advocate for social change broadly but also functionally—that is, as a leader by example within an organization. According to Cano (2020), “social workers must be at the forefront of the efforts to implement agendas that promote diversity and inclusion in the workforce” (p. 107).
As a student and intern, of course, these efforts must be tempered by humility and in a spirit of learning. To that end, in this Assignment you take an inventory of diversity and inclusion in your agency.
Note: The goal of this Assignment is for you to learn about your agency. It is important to recognize that agencies approach diversity and inclusion differently—therefore, the intent of this Assignment is not to critique the agency's approach but to learn what they do.
Submit the completed Diversity and Inclusion Worksheet. Be sure to:
Diversity and Inclusion Worksheet
Instructions: Inventory how your agency works toward policies promoting diversity and inclusion by exploring the key indicators below. Use “Yes” or “No” in the “Implemented” column to indicate the existence of such a policy at your agency.
If you answer “Yes,” identify the policy in the righthand column. Then, reflect on what you have learned and answer the analysis questions in Part 2. Note that organizations address these types of policies in different ways and as a result of different influences.
This Assignment is meant to facilitate greater learning about your agency and the context in which it works. The Assignment is not meant to judge the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Part 1: Policy Inventory
Policy to Promote Diversity and Inclusion
Has this policy been implemented in the agency?
If “Yes,” identify the policy.
Diversity and inclusion training for supervisory staff
Diversity and/or diverse populations included in the organization’s mission, vision, and values
Creation of affinity groups (e.g., working parents, people of color, women)
Diversity in hiring and advancement practices
Policies to address discrimination in the organization
Diversity emphasized in the orientation and training of new employees
One or more employee roles that include diversity and inclusion as job functions
Multilingual employees who can work with clients whose English is limited
Professional development and/or mentoring to support employees with diverse backgrounds
Adapted from Cano, M. (2020). Diversity and inclusion in social service organizations: Implications for community partnerships and social work education. Journal of Social Work Education, 56(1), 105–114. https://doi.org.10.1080/10437797.2019.1656577
Part 2: Analysis Questions
· How do agency initiatives connect to practice behaviors around diversity and to social work values?
· After reviewing how policies promoting diversity and inclusion are applied at your agency, answer the following:
· What work do you notice at the agency related to diversity and inclusion that is not covered in the inventory, or that is not listed in agency policies?
· What are the gaps at the agency, and how might they be closed? (For example, who or what is missing? How is power distributed? What opportunities do you see for training and professional development surrounding diversity and inclusion?)
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Journal of Social Work Education
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Diversity and Inclusion in Social Service Organizations: Implications for Community Partnerships and Social Work Education
To cite this article: Manuel Cano (2020) Diversity and Inclusion in Social Service Organizations: Implications for Community Partnerships and Social Work Education, Journal of Social Work Education, 56:1, 105-114, DOI: 10.1080/10437797.2019.1656577
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.2019.1656577
Published online: 30 Aug 2019.
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Diversity and Inclusion in Social Service Organizations: Implications for Community Partnerships and Social Work Education Manuel Cano
ABSTRACT Schools of social work in the United States are responsible for training students to work with diverse clients and communities. These schools have an additional, yet often unaddressed, responsibility to prepare stu- dents to understand diversity in the workforce and to lead initiatives for diversity and inclusion in organizational settings. This study presents results of a survey conducted with 64 representatives of field-placement social service organizations located in Massachusetts, with the goals of (a) asses- sing the status of diversity and inclusion initiatives in these organizations and (b) identifying some of the competencies and skills that are deemed important in a leader of diversity and inclusion. Results indicate that while the service organizations surveyed have adopted a range of diversity and inclusion initiatives, a greater level of implementation was reported for broad diversity initiatives (e.g., mentioning diversity in their mission state- ment) than for inclusion-focused initiatives (e.g., mentoring to support inclusion). Providing leadership for diversity and inclusion was identified as a complex responsibility that requires not only sophisticated abilities but also cultural and social competencies. Findings may help schools of social work to strengthen their curricula to help students develop skills and competencies for the promotion of diversity and inclusion.
ARTICLE HISTORY Accepted: July 2018
As institutions that prepare professional social workers, accredited schools of social work in the United States are responsible for promoting respect for human diversity and preparing students to work with diverse clients and communities (Council on Social Work Education, 2015). These schools, their accrediting body, and the field of social work as a whole have emphasized a strong commitment to prepare social work students, through a competency-based education, to engage diversity in practice with clients and constituencies (CSWE, 2015; Poulin & Matis, 2015). Comparatively less attention has been given to engaging diversity in collaboration with diverse peers, coworkers, subordinates, and superiors; that is, preparing social work students to understand diversity and lead diversity initiatives within the dynamic and complex organizational settings of contemporary societies.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that the workforce diversity (i.e., divisions of the workforce into groups with perceived commonalities; Mor Barak, 2017) of the United States is shifting, such that women occupy a majority of the management positions in medical and health service organizations (2016a); foreign workers fill more jobs than their native-born peers in several industries (2017a); one of every five persons with a disability participates in the workforce (2017b); and a third of the employed veterans with a service-related disability work for the public sector (2017c). In 2015, 17% of the US labor force identified as Latino/Hispanic, while 12% identified as Black, and 6% identified as Asian (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016b). Furthermore, the increase
CONTACT Manuel Cano [email protected] Department of Social Work, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 501 W. César E. Chávez Blvd., San Antonio, TX 78207. © 2019 Council on Social Work Education
JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK EDUCATION 2020, VOL. 56, NO. 1, 105–114 https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.2019.1656577
in workforce diversity is also reported for the social work profession. In 2017, for example, about 23% of social workers identified as Black or African American, and the unadjusted proportion of Latino/Hispanic social workers grew from about 12% in 2007 to 14% in 2017 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018).
In diverse organizations, support for human diversity can be critical for competition, as a workforce that shares cultural similarities with its diverse base of service recipients may be better positioned to understand these clients’ needs (Wentling & Palma-Rivas, 2000). By itself, however, a diverse workforce fails to guarantee an increase in organizational performance, human capital, or harmony (Jayne & Dipboye, 2004). Prior literature has discussed the complexities (Windscheid, Bowes-Sperry, Mazei, & Morner, 2017), dilemmas (Jayne & Dipboye, 2004), and spillover effects (Shen, Chanda, D’netto, & Monga, 2009) associated with diverse workforces. Group divisions that stem from membership (whether actual or ascribed) in a minority or disfavored group can pre- cipitate exclusion, hostility, or violence (Mor Barak, 2017). Furthermore, because diverse workers may encounter underemployment, restricted access to career development opportunities, inadequate inclusion in the workplace (Fassinger, 2008), or even gender-wage disparities in the social services sector (Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, 2016), leaders of social service organiza- tions must address the diversity-related needs not only of their clientele base but also of their workforces.
A focus on diversity without attending to inclusion (i.e., individuals’ sense of belonging within their organizations while retaining their uniqueness; Shore et al., 2011) may not effectively meet the diverse workforce’s needs for engagement and support, elements necessary to create, promote, and sustain communities where employees feel welcomed and valued (Puritty et al., 2017). The concept of diversity management is therefore concerned with the design and implementation of initiatives (i.e., programs, policies, or activities) to address diversity-related issues in the workplace (Tatli, 2011; Wentling & Palma-Rivas, 2000). Diversity management implies “deliberate policies and programs” that support “inclusion of employees from various backgrounds into the formal and informal organizational structures” (Mor Barak, 2017, p. 209) and aims to foster the positive outcomes associated with a diverse workforce. Job satisfaction, retention, and performance, as well as well- being, creativity, and opportunities for advancement, are outcomes associated with a climate and leadership that embodies inclusion (Shore et al., 2011). Specifically, diversity-focused mentoring and employee resource/networking groups have been identified as some of the most utilized initiatives for diversity and inclusion among high-performing organizations (Forbes, 2011).
A substantial portion of what is currently known about managing diverse workforces comes from studies of large-scale (Wentling, 2004), business-oriented (Miller & Tucker, 2013), or federal-level organizations (Wyatt-Nichol & Antwi-Boasiako, 2012). Study findings from state and local govern- ments suggest that initiatives to manage diversity ought to be adapted to the particular needs of organizations and tailored to the resources and capacities of these organizations, as one-size-fits-all strategies cannot be recommended for all organizational circumstances (Wentling & Palma-Rivas, 2000; Wyatt-Nichol & Antwi-Boasiako, 2012). The unique composition of the workforce of social service organizations—the industry sector employing the majority of America’s social workers (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic, 2017d)—warrants an examination of these organizations’ capacity to handle diversity-related issues. This examination is additionally relevant to social work education for at least two reasons.
First, the extent to which social workers will effectively manage the diversity and inclusion needs among social service organizations will be, at least in part, a function of how well social workers are attuned to the needs and priorities within such organizations. In an attempt to reduce the gap between the theory taught in the classroom and the practice needed to perform a job, it can be beneficial for schools of social work to examine the organizational needs of the social service organizations in their communities. Stakeholder theory (Windsor, 2002) emphasizes the importance of considering the needs of various invested groups. Social service agencies can be viewed as a key stakeholder for schools of social work, as they not only complement the formation of social work
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students but are also likely to become these students’ future employers; at the same time, social service organizations have a stake in the training and educational outcomes of social work students.
Second, accredited schools of social work are entrusted with preparing future generations of professional social workers to serve in their workplaces as leaders of diversity and inclusion, whether “leaders” by virtue of a title or position or simply by practice and example. In the midst of the social challenges pertaining to explicit or covert discrimination in contemporary societies, social workers must be at the forefront of the efforts to implement agendas that promote diversity and inclusion in the workforce. While several of the core skills that define effective leadership may be common across disciplines, social service agencies may identify a particular subset of skills and competencies that are most needed or valued in a leader for diversity and inclusion. Identifying this information can be helpful for the accredited schools of social work which continuously work to enhance the compe- tencies in their curricula (CSWE, 2015).
The present study
This study was designed in response to the gaps in the literature about (a) the state of diversity and inclusion initiatives among social service organizations; (b) the needs of those organizations for leaders of diversity and inclusion; and (c) the particular skills and competencies that may be needed in social work curricula to complement or expand social work’s commitment toward diversity. The term diversity can be defined in a myriad of ways (Mor Barak, 2017); in a broad sense, diversity refers to observable or unobservable social attributes that can be used to associate individuals with different subgroups (Milliken & Martins, 1996).
However, a broad conception of diversity (“everyone is diverse”) potentially diverts attention and resources away from the specific groups who historically or currently face exclusion, injustice, oppression, and inequity (Mor Barak, 2017, p. 222). Therefore, this study’s definition of diversity is centered on groups who are frequently excluded or subject to disadvantage. Consistent with the dimensions of diversity outlined by the Council of Social Work Education (2015), the study considers diversity characteristics to include “age, class, color, culture, disability and ability, ethni- city, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, marital status, political ideology, race, religion/spirituality, sex, sexual orientation, and tribal sovereign status” (p. 7).
The study had two aims: (1) To broadly assess the status (i.e., progress and needs) of diversity and inclusion initiatives implemented by organizations in the social services sector in Massachusetts and (2) to identify the skills and competencies associated with effective diversity management within social services organizations, a key stakeholder for schools of social work. This information is particularly relevant to the accredited schools of social work across the United States as they prepare the future generation of social workers as they seek to understand, promote, and manage diversity and inclusion, not only among their clients but also among their organizations. For social work students, furthermore, knowledge and skills in diversity management may also provide a competitive edge in an increasingly diverse society.
In May of 2017, the Field Education Office of a university in Massachusetts sent a survey invitation to representatives of the social service organizations utilized for MSW field placements. The survey invitation, which contained a link to an anonymous survey with the questions for the study, was emailed to a total of 370 representatives, based on the following eligibility criteria: only one representative from each agency received the survey invitation; and each representative held the position of director, supervisor, or coordinator at a social service organization with at least one MSW student intern during the 2016–2017 academic year.
JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK EDUCATION 107
Upon completion of the survey, the representatives had the option to receive a report with survey findings and/or enter a raffle for one $50.00 Amazon gift card. A total of 100 organizational representatives began the online survey and consented to participate (for a response rate of 27%). The analytic sample, however, was limited to 64 participants because 36 representatives did not answer any questions beyond the informed consent. Due to the anonymity of the survey, it was not possible to assess whether the representatives’ affiliation was reflective of a particular geographical region. Given that these organizations were associated with the university’s MSW field education program, however, it is likely that a considerable proportion of the surveyed organizations were located within a major metropolitan area of Massachusetts.
In an attempt to foster a safe environment in which views could be openly shared (while minimizing acquiescence), and to preclude retaliation from participants’ employers, the study did not collect any self-identifying information from the participants (e.g., employee profiles and demographic characteristics). Broadly, the survey inquired about organizational character- istics, participants’ perceptions of the status of initiatives of diversity and inclusion implemen- ted by their organizations, and participants’ assessments of the importance of different skills and competencies associated with leadership for diversity and inclusion. Participants were instructed to answer the questions “to the best of [their] knowledge.” Most of the questions were multiple choice, although participants were able to enter text responses to questions labeled as “other” (e.g., other initiatives, skills). Institutional Review Board approval was received for this study.
Diversity and inclusion initiatives status index The status of the diversity and inclusion initiatives at the participating organizations was measured based on nine items relevant to established positions, policies, and practices. Examples of the nine diversity and inclusion initiatives included diversity recognized in mission statement, organizational values, or strategic priority; adoption of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies; discussion of diversity during employee orientation; diversity training for supervisors; and employee resource groups. For each initiative, the four possible responses were: “We have not yet considered this” (coded with a score of 1); “We have discussed this but have not yet taken any action steps” (coded with a score of 2); “We have decided to do this and are in the planning/pilot testing phase” (coded with a score of 3); and “We have fully implemented this initiative” (coded with a score of 4). A composite index (i.e., “The Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Status Index”) of the mean score for each of the nine items was created for statistical analyses. Higher scores on this index indicate a higher level of implementation of diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Skills and competencies index Seventeen items were used to capture the desired skills and experiences in an “ideal” leader of diversity and inclusion. Item examples included general leadership and management skills (e.g., respond to complaints and grievances and interpret workforce analytics), as well as skills and competencies associated with leadership for diversity and inclusion, such as “successfully inter- view and hire applicants from diverse backgrounds” and “connect in an authentic way with the members of marginalized employee groups.” For each item, the response categories ranged from “unimportant” (coded with a score of 1) to “very important” (coded with a score of 4). Mean scores were computed in order to compare the degrees of importance ascribed to each skill or competency in a potential leader of diversity and inclusion. Finally, a series of nine questions, measured dichotomously (i.e., “yes” or “no”), were utilized to determine if the respondent organizations focused their programs and services toward the needs of particular populations which can be underrepresented in the workplace (e.g., people of color, women, immigrants, older adults, and veterans, among others).
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Data cleaning and data management procedures were conducted in preparation to perform uni- variate and bivariate analyses (e.g., point-biserial correlations and one-way analysis of variance [ANOVA]). Welch t-tests were employed for unequal variances (two-tailed tests, p< .05). Unconditional mean substitution was used to impute missing values on the diversity and inclusion initiatives status index (1.6% of missing data in this index), and data transformation (squared and cubic functions) preceded the bivariate analyses involving the indices. The statistical analyses were conducted using Stata 15.1 SE.
About two-thirds (63%) of the participants identified their organizations as nonprofits. Among the rest of the participants, approximately 13% and 7% indicated that their organizations were public- sector agencies and for-profit organizations, respectively. The remaining 17% of participants chose the category “other organization type,” indicating that they did not identify their organization as either nonprofit, for-profit, or public sector. Examples of organizations classified as “other” included K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. The number of employees at the participating organizations ranged from 1 to 5000, with a median of 110 employees. Table 1 presents the organizations’ workforce characteristics as estimated by the organizational representatives, to the best of their knowledge.
The organizations surveyed reported an average workforce composition of 75% women and 35% people of color. Immigrants were estimated to comprise approximately 15% of the workforce in organizations surveyed; this percentage was approximately 8% for both LGBTQ individuals and adults aged 65 and older, while veterans and individuals with a disability were the two groups least represented among organization workforces, at approximately 3% each. Although individuals with disabilities were estimated to represent only 3% of the organizations’ workforces, this population (people with a disability) was the most frequently identified group on which organizational services or programs were focused. Organizations most frequently reported a focus on people with a disability (67%), followed by immigrants (56%), people of color (52%), women (47%), LGBTQ individuals (45%), and older adults (43%). Only 28% of the organizations surveyed indicated a focus on services for veterans.
Status of diversity and inclusion initiatives
Of the nine diversity and inclusion initiatives, “recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusion (either as part of a mission statement, organizational values, and/or a strategic priority)” was the initiative most frequently rated (81%) as “fully implemented” across organizations. Figure 1 presents the distribution of initiatives of diversity and inclusion at every stage of implementation. “Adoption of
Table 1. Workforce composition and focus of programs and services among surveyed social services organizations.
Population Group Workforce Composition, %a Service/Program Focus, %a
Women 75.1 46.7 People of color 35.4 52.2 Immigrants 15.0 56.3 LGBTQ 8.3 45.5 Older adults (65 years +) 8.2 42.9 People with a disability 3.1 66.7 Veterans 2.7 27.5
aPercentages are calculated from responses with nonmissing data, as n differs across items.
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Equal Employment Opportunity policies” was rated as “fully implemented” in 74% of organizations, while affirmative action policies were described as “fully implemented” in 70% of organizations surveyed. Approximately half of all organizations indicated that they had fully implemented the following two initiatives: providing diversity training for supervisors and designating diversity and inclusion functions to one or more individuals within the organization. Facilitating “employee resource groups” and “mentoring to support inclusion of employees with different backgrounds” were the initiatives least often rated as “fully implemented” across organizations (22% and 29%, respectively).
The mean index score (highest possible is 4.0) was 2.99, which indicates that, on average, organizations reported that they had decided to adopt the presented initiatives, and that they were either planning or pilot-testing such initiatives. A small number of organizations identified different initiatives (not included in the survey) as already implemented, for example, “peacemaking circles with employees at all levels to discuss race, inclusion and diversity,” “a group supervision format for various cohorts that focuses on issues related to diversity and social justice,” and “supervisor training that included an assessment of multicultural awareness.” Some organizational representatives also shared candid views about the realities associated with implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives, as captured in the following response: “There are many ways that individuals are participating at this level, but the office dynamics as a whole are slower to catch up.”
Skills and competencies for diversity and inclusion
With respect to evaluating an array of skills and competencies in a leader of diversity and inclusion, “successfully interviewing and hiring applicants from diverse backgrounds” was the skill rated as
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
Employee resource groups (e.g. group for female or LGBTQ employees)
Mentoring to support inclusion of employees with different backgrounds
Recognizing bilingual/bicultural employees who work with clients with limited English proficiency
Diversity training for supervisors and managers
Diversity and inclusion functions designated to one or more people at the organization
Discussion of diversity as part of employee orientation
Affirmative Action policies and practices to hire or promote employees from diverse backgrounds
Adoption of EEO policies and practices to deal with bias or discrimination
Diversity recognized in mission statement, organizational values, and/or strategic priority
Fully implemented Planning/Pilot testing Discussed, no action Not yet considered
Figure 1. Reported status of diversity and inclusion initiatives at the surveyed organizations (percentages are calculated from responses with nonmissing data, as n differs across initiatives).
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most important, with an average score of 3.79 on a 1 to 4 scale, where 1 indicates “unimportant” and 4 indicates very “important.” “A ‘dialogue culture’ where is it possible to have difficult conversations in a constructive manner,” “respond[ing] to complaints and grievances,” and “design[ing] innovative strategies for recruitment” were also rated as important (with scores of 3.71, 3.70, and 3.68, respectively). In contrast, having received “an MBA” or “MSW” with a “certificate” in diversity and inclusion were the competencies rated as least important (with scores of 1.89 and 2.27, respectively). Table 2 presents the distribution of the most and least valued skills/competencies.
Elements associated with implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives
Point-biserial correlations were conducted between the diversity and inclusion initiatives status index and each of the items indicating whether or not an organization focused its programs and services on a given population. Statistically significant results were observed for organizations focusing on people of color (rpb = 0.35, p =
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